A Once In a Lifetime Shot

Posted in Under the Sea on March 27th, 2010 by MadDog
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The weekend got off to a perfect start this morning when I crossed the terminal wires on my boat battery and blew the voltage regulator on my engine. I had to cancel the day for five divers standing on the dock waiting for me. I hope the remainder of their weekend went better than mine. Fortunately, Richard Jones is in town, so I went out on his boat, Sanguma  along with Jenn, Jo and Ush.

I have lots of other news about the weekend, some good, some not so. I’m sitting at the office on Sunday afternoon writing this because the power to the security camera pole where my wireless connection makes its hop to my house has been out all weekend and, of course, my wonderful TELIKOM phone lines won’t carry data today because there were a few drops of rain last night.

I could keep on complaining for hours, but I don’t have the time. Too bad. It’s my favourite hobby.

One of the bright spots of the weekend is in this image:If you’re not a diver, you might not think that it’s such a big deal. Believe me, it is.  The shot above was taken by available light at about eighteen metres at The Eel Garden  at Pig Island.

What you’re looking at is two giant Notodoris minor  nudibranchs engaged in a super slow motion mating act. (UPDATE: Frank Peeters points out that this is actually one N. Minor.  His explanation is perfect; I can’t argue with it. See our comments below. I’m only slightly deflated.) The reason I’m showing you three nearly identical images of the same scene are partly technical and partly because I’m so dumbfounded by my luck that I can’t stop inserting the images in this post. It’s one thing to see a Notodoris minor.  I’ve found a spot at The Eel Garden  where I can usually find one if I take the time to look. It’s another thing to find two of them together. However, I have never before, and very likely never will again catch two of them in the act of laying and fertilising eggs. The shot above was lit by the flash on my camera.

Needless to say, I grabbed many, many exposures of the pair. I did not want to risk something going wrong. I tried several different camera settings. I made up this image in Photoshop which, though it seems faded compared to the others, shows the fine structures in high detail and really gives a more accurate idea of the shape of the things:The image above is over twice the pixel dimensions that I usually put in the journal. I normally limit resolution to 1600 pixels. This makes them load faster if you want to click to enlarge. It also protects me a little from those who steal images from the web and foist them off as their own. Yes, it has happened to me. My copyright (see the bottom of the page) allows free non-commercial use of any of my images without seeking permission as long as you simply attach my name to the image or (preferably) include a link to Madang – Ples Bilong Mi.  That’s fairly small payment for the work that I put into presenting my best work on this site. I’ve found plenty of my images on other web sites with no attribution. I’m not sure why someone would do that, but it doesn’t make me particularly happy. Anyway, if you want to see some amazing details of the egg-laying nudis, click on the image above and be ready to download about a half of a megabyte.

I also thought that you might be interested to see the old wrecked catamaran river barge which is right beside the place where I find the Notodoris minor:That image is a stitch-up of seven separate frames. It covers about 160°.

Since we’re doing a lot of yellow today, I’ll throw in this snap-shot of a Latticed Butterflyfish (Chaetodon rafflesi):I’d rather that the other one had gotten out of the way a little sooner. This image was the result of a ten minute chase. Butterflyfish are very frustrating.

I’ll have more weekend adventures later. They include a very nice party, a car theft by a drunk, a house invasion and possible rape (we don’t know yet) and probably some other things that I’ve already suppressed deep in my memory vault.

I’ll also have some nice shots of my peeps.*

* I’m destined to live the dream for all my peeps who never made it. -Naz

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Nudibranchs – Can’t Get Enough of ‘Em

Posted in Under the Sea on November 30th, 2009 by MadDog
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Saturday at the South end of Leper Island  was a good day for nudibranch hunting. There’s not much challenge to hunting nudibranchs, except to find them in the beginning. Sometimes there are a lot of them and sometimes none. I don’t know where they go. The slide around slower than land snails, so motion capture is not a problem. Most of them, however are teensy-weensy. This Chromodoris geometrica  was about 1.5 cm long:

Nudibranch - Chromodoris geometrica

You have to get your camera lens practically right up against the critter to get a shot like this. That means that, with the Canon G10 rig, you can’t use the flash; it’s blocked by the housing.

I was frankly surprised that these shots came out so pretty. The colours are very accurate and I got enough depth of field to get good focus from edge to edge. Here’s another shot of the little fellow going downhill:

Nudibranch - Chromodoris geometrica

The breathing organ (branch) is the feathery thing at the back. The antlers at the front are, I imagine, sensory organs. I’m very happy with these shots, especially since this is the first time that I’ve seen this species.

Here’s something that you don’t see every day, nudibranch eggs:Nudibranch eggsThe cluster is about as big around as a golf ball. If you click to enlarge you will see that is is very lacy. The individual eggs are stuck together and come out in a ribbon. They are always laid out in a circle or spiral shape.

Here’s another nudi for you. This one is a Phyllidiella pustulosa:Nudibranch - Phyllidiella pustulosa (flash lit)I can’t say that I’m fond of the taxonomic name. Anything that starts with ‘pust’ doesn’t appeal to me. The shot above was taken with the flash turned on. For a flash shot, it’s not too bad, though the colours are just a bit off.

Here’s the same critter with the flash turned off. I like this much better:Nudibranch - Phyllidiella pustulosa (natural light)It is much closer to what I actually saw. To me it appears more natural. I sometimes wonder of non-divers ever notice the difference. I suppose that most people just assume that everything is gaudy-bright the way the popular press shows most underwater images. It’s not really that way.

The clown shot of the day is provided by these cute little Striped Catfish (Plotosus lineatus):Striped Catfish - Plotosus lineatusThey travel around in schools and usually line up along a front edge of travel while they pick up tasty bits from the bottom. It’s comical to watch them marching on their whiskery little noses. Ones at the front will break away and move to the back so that their buddies can get to the fresh stuff. Or maybe they just need time to chew. I’m not convinced that fish are altruistic.

Here’s an image that I shot a few years ago up at Mililat Passage  of a river of Striped Catfish:A river of Striped Catfish (Plotosus lineatus)
Cool, eh?

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Do You Know What This Is?

Posted in Under the Sea on February 14th, 2008 by MadDog
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We’ve been seeing this stuff while diving for years.  Much speculation over many beers has not produced a convincing explanation of just what it is.  Some say it’s poo.  I say, “Poo!” to that.  I think it might be egg casts from some kind of bêche-de-mer (or sea cucumber, if you prefer).  The ‘beads’ are about the size of large pearls.  If fact, it looks like a necklace made of cement.  You can pick it up as a string, but it is very delicate and falls apart at the merest flick.

Anyway, here’s a photo of the stuff:

guess_what.jpg

If you know what this is, or you have a funny guess, then please click the Comments (or No Comments) button below to enlighten or amuse us.

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